Archive for April 4th, 2013

Improving Weather

| April 4, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

**No afternoon Weather Xtreme video today… we are programming Weather Radio receivers at the Publix in McCalla/Bessemer at Colonial Promenade… if you need help, come see us!**

Thanks to J.B. Elliott for these forecast notes…

A HISTORIC WEATHER DAY: We don’t have space to go into great detail here, but we hope you saw the 33/40 Weather Blog story by James Spann this morning about the ultra-powerful tornado (known as the Smithfield Tornado) that moved across the west and northwest side of Birmingham on this date in 1977. James tells a story that only he knows how. There are also lots of photographs and some interesting side stories. I was still with the National Weather Service at 11 West Oxmoor Road when this occurred and NOAA Weather Radio was in its infancy. Nevertheless, we got so many calls and reports about the tragedy unfolding on the edge of the city, that I decided to go live on the weather radio for 90 minutes. That had never been done before. Of course I had help. Jay Shelley, my immediate supervisor at the time, kept bringing me special notes of the damage and Jay even brought me a plastic overlay of the radar that I ad-libbed from. It was a date I will never forget. Come to think of it, it is one of a bunch of dates that I will never forget in my weather career. Enough of that, let’s get back to the present.

BACK TO TODAY: We have had enough rain lately to make a lot of people sick of it. I guess I am a rain monger because I still like rainy days. Patches of rain have continued to move east and southeast across the state today and clouds have persisted, but better things are ahead. We could still see a stray thunderstorm or two this afternoon and tonight. The air is cool, however, but even so we will drop to near 43 by morning. Look for some leftover patchy fog and drizzle early Friday, but mostly sunshine the rest of the day. You need to look forward to Saturday because it should be a day of full sunshine, a cool morning, but a mild afternoon in the mid-70s. More sun than clouds on Sunday and mild with a high near 76. Monday should also have a warm 76 to 78 and warm and breezy. Even warmer on Tuesday with a high of 81. It should be very mild with a few thunderstorms, however, Tuesday night.

THIS IS THE DAY TO REMEMBER: How about the warmest day so far this year on Wednesday. It will be warm and windy. The latest model data, which we trust pretty much (we just about have to trust some of them) shows a high of 84 for Birmingham on Wednesday. There will also be some thunderstorms later in the day, Wednesday night, or Thursday. A few of those could even be severe.

As discussed earlier today, WAY too early to determine the magnitude of the severe weather threat, timing, placement, and modes of severe weather. We will know much more in a few days.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

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I had a great time today seeing the home school group at Riverchase Baptist Church, and the kids at Southminster Day School. Be looking for them on the Pepsi KIDCAM at 5 and 6:00 on ABC 33/40 News. The next Weather Xtreme video will be posted here by 7:00 a.m. tomorrow…

On This Date In 1977…

| April 4, 2013 @ 5:58 am

SMITHFIELD TORNADO: The tornado began around 3 pm CST, 4 miles northwest of Birmingham near U.S. Highway 78, and then traveled northeast for 15 miles at 60 mph, crossing Interstate 65. At it’s widest point, the tornado was 3/4 of a mile wide. Over 150 homes were damaged with almost 50 completely destroyed. A total of 22 people were killed with over 130 injured. This one storm alone caused over $25 million in damage ($83 million in today dollars). Daniel Payne College near U.S. Highway 78 sustained heavy damage from this massive tornado with estimates over $1 million dollars. The college, opened in 1880, later closed its doors in 1977, likely a result of the enormous cost and amount of damage. There were six other tornadoes on this day including five F2 tornadoes and an F3 tornado across North and Central Alabama.

Timely tornado warnings provided by the National Weather Service allowed people to take necessary action well ahead of the approaching storm. The new NOAA Weather Radio program played a huge role in the process. Warnings were broadcast live on the Birmingham KIH-54 transmitter which was just implemented five months prior to this event.

Many people do not know that the famous Dr. Theodore Fujita, for whom the Tornado Fujita Intensity Scale is named after, followed this massive tornado and supercell thunderstorm from an airplane. After tracking the storm, Dr. Fujita surveyed the damage and toyed with the idea of rating the Smithfield tornado an F6. (thanks to the Birmingham NWS for this summary).

Our own J.B. Elliott took many, many damage pictures for the National Weather Service…



This story was produced by ABC 33/40 back in the 90s (thanks to Mike Wilhelm for putting this up on YouTube)

See more pictures and meteorological data from the event here from the NWS Birmingham.

PASSENGER JET DISASTER: The same thunderstorm complex was responsible for the crash of Southern Airways Flight 242 in Georgia; it was a flight from Huntsville to Atlanta. The passenger jet went down after suffering hail damage and losing thrust on both engines; Sixty-three people on the aircraft (including the flight crew) and nine people on the ground died; twenty passengers survived, as well as the two flight attendants. One of the initial survivors succumbed to his injuries several weeks later.

Cool, Wet Day; A Brighter/Warmer Weekend

| April 4, 2013 @ 5:52 am

An all new edition of the ABC 33/40 Weather Xtreme video is available in the player on the right sidebar of the blog. You can subscribe to the Weather Xtreme video on iTunes by clicking here.

CHILLY, DAMP APRIL DAY: The average high for Birmingham on April 4 is 71 degrees; we will be about 15 degrees below that level again today thanks to clouds and rain… it will be very hard for us to move past the mid 50s. A surface low in the northern Gulf is the culprit, and should bring additional rain amounts of about 1/2 inch to the northern half of the state today.

Of course, the air is cool and stable and we won’t have any severe weather worries… but to the south much of the Florida peninsula is in the warm sector, and severe storms are very possible later and tonight, mainly along and south of I-10. SPC has the standard “slight risk” of severe weather up for this part of Florida.

Our weather improves tomorrow with gradual clearing, and we rise into the mid 60s.

FINE WEEKEND: No change in our weekend forecast. Just fantastic… sunny mild days Saturday and Sunday with highs in the mid 70s. We do note Saturday morning will be cool; we start the day with temperatures around 40, and some of the cold pockets up in Northeast Alabama might see a touch of light frost with lows in the mid 30s. But, for a large majority of Alabama no frost issues early Saturday.

NEXT WEEK: A major storm system will take shape west of the state, and we will enjoy potentially the warmest weather so far in 2013, with highs in the 77-81 degree range Monday through Wednesday.

There is no doubt we could be dealing with a severe weather threat later in the week… the 00Z GFS hints the best chance will come from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, but please understand there is no way right now of resolving the magnitude of the event, modes of severe weather, risk placement, and timing. You will have lots of boneheads that have “weather center” Facebook pages or blogs that will try and scare the pants off of people now, which is completely irresponsible. Weather hyperbole on the Internet has gotten out of hand.

Take a minute an watch the Weather Xtreme video for the latest graphics, maps, and details.

AT THE BEACH: More showers and storms on the Gulf Coast today, but the sky will clear tomorrow, and then you can expect a good supply of sunshine over the weekend, and into Monday of next week. The high today will be in the upper 60s, but low to mid 70s return tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday from Panama City west to Gulf Shores. The sea water temperature at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, as I write this early this morning, is 63 degrees.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR WEATHER RADIO? We will be at the Publix in McCalla, near McAdory High School tomorrow from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. If you have questions, need your radio programmed, or need to buy one, come and see us. Now is the time to get ready for severe weather since the core of the season is just ahead.

WEATHER BRAINS: Don’t forget you can listen to our weekly 90 minute netcast anytime on the web, or on iTunes. This is the show all about weather featuring many familiar voices, including our meteorologists here at ABC 33/40.

CONNECT: You can find me on all of the major social networks…

Google Plus

I have weather programs today for a home school group at Riverchase Baptist Church…then one at Southminster School in Vestavia. Not sure if I will have time to produce an afternoon video due to the live shot/weather radio programming event in McCalla, but I will have forecast notes here one way or another by 4:00 this afternoon. Enjoy the day…